General Overview

There are two general types of approval required in the UK for any alterations to domestic buildings, Planning Approval and Building Control Approval.  Not all alterations require consent from the Planning Department, but all work must be carried out in accordance with your local Building Control Regulations.

In the case of installing a new kitchen most of the regulations will relate to the electrical work, the plumbing and any works involving gas supplies.  Planning Consent is not normally a requirement; even some small extensions will be exempt from Planning Control, although the actual requirements can vary from one area to another, so always check with your local Planning Department.  However any building alterations will require the approval of your local Building Control office.

There are also some basic conventions which kitchen designers use, which are not necessarily legal requirements, but are guidance for your general safety and for ensuring ease of use and functionality.  These conventions relate mostly to the positioning of elements within the kitchen in relation to one another, and also in relation to fixed items such as doors and windows.
If you have any doubts please consult your local planning or building control office.  It is essential that you comply with the regulations.  If you carry out works which are not approved, or which contravene any regulation, you will incur problems if you ever want to sell the property and you might well be placing yourself and your family in danger.  Please always consult an expert.

The following is designed as a general guide, as stated above, detailed requirements can vary from one area or council district to another.

You might require Planning Approval for:

  • An extension to the original property.
  • Moving or making alterations to any external doors or windows.
  • Installing new external drainage pipes (some councils permit external soil pipes, others insist on internal fittings)
  • Construction of any chimney or flue.

Building Control approval will be required for any structural alteration whether external or internal but is normally not required for:

  • Replacement of kitchen units, worktops, sinks taps or appliances.
  • Redesigning a kitchen, changing layouts and moving appliances, providing no structural work is involved.

In the case of a kitchen being installed in a room which was not previously a kitchen, Building Control approval is likely to be required, particularly in respect of adequate ventilation.

Remember that even if planning or building control approval is not a requirement, all work must be carried out in accordance with the regulations which cover electrical, gas and plumbing installations.  It is a legal requirement in the UK that any person working with your electrical supply, your gas supply or your plumbing must be a qualified contractor and registered with the appropriate authority.  For detail consult your local Building Control office, see Planning Links.

You might have read or heard about a section of the electrical regulations reffered to as Part P.  These apply to all electrical works in a dwelling and are explained in more detail on our page Part P.

Part P of electrical regulations.

Since Jan 1 2005 all electrical work, except for simple like for like replacements of light fittings etc, has required approval by local Building Control officers.
This does not mean that a DIYer cannot carry out work himself, but he must provide plans of the intended work in advance to the Building Control office, and upon completion the works must be inspected. 
Fees are charged for the inspection.

An electrician who is registered with one of the several approved schemes can self-certify any work he has completed.  This can often be cheaper than paying for an inspector to call out!

To what types of electrical work does Part P apply?

  • In a dwelling
    The term dwelling includes houses, maisonettes and flats. It also apply to electrical installations in business premises that share an electricity supply with dwellings, such as shops and public houses with a flat above.
  • In the common parts of buildings serving one or more dwellings
    The common parts of buildings includes access areas in blocks of flats such as hallways and shared amenities in blocks of flats such as laundries and gymnasiums, but excludes power supplies to lifts
  • In a building that receives electricity from a source located within or shared with a dwelling
  • In a garden or in or on land associate with a building where the electricity supply is from a source located within or shared with a dwelling
  • Electrical installations located in outbuildings
    such as detached garages, sheds and greenhouses.
  • Electrical installations that operate at voltages not exceeding 1000 V a.c.

Notifiable work includes new installations, house re-wires, and the installation of new circuits, also includes additions to existing circuits in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors and in other special locations.

What types of electrical work are ‘non-notifiable’ under Part P?

  • Replacing accessories e.g. socket-outlets, control switches and ceiling roses
  • Replacing the cable for a single circuit only, where damaged.
    On condition that the replacement cable has the same current-carrying capacity, follows the same route and does not serve more than one sub-circuit through a distribution board
  • Re-fixing or replacing the enclosures of existing installation components, if the circuit’s protective measures are unaffected
  • Providing mechanical protection to existing fixed installations
    If the circuit’s protective measures and current-carrying capacity of conductors are unaffected by increased thermal insulation
  • Work that is not in a kitchen or special location and does not involve a special installation and consists of:
    Adding lighting points (light fittings and switches) to an existing circuit, only if the existing circuit protective device is suitable and provides protection for the modified circuit, and other relevant safety provisions are satisfactory.
    Adding socket-outlets and fused spurs to an existing ring or radial circuit, only if the existing circuit protective device is suitable and provides protection for the modified circuit, and other relevant safety provisions are satisfactory
    Installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding

Special locations and installations:

  • Locations containing a bath tub or shower basin
  • Swimming pools or paddling pools 
  • Hot air saunas
  • Electric floor or ceiling heating systems
  • Garden lighting or power installations
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) power supply systems
  • Small scale generators such as microCHP units
  • Extra-low voltage lighting installations, other than pre-assembled, CE-marked lighting sets

Particular to Bathroom design and installation.

These guidance notes are not necessarily legislation.

These are notes foryour guidance, not necessarily regulations.